Miley’s back, and she’s Younger Now. She’s (perhaps rather controversially) ditched her attempt at hip-hop and the appropriation of black culture and has returned to her country roots, with a little help from Queen Dolly herself. This album is raw and intensely emotional, laying all of her emotions out for the world to see and proclaiming that “no-one stays the same”. Singles Malibu and Younger Now set the tone for the album and are strong releases (I, personally, have listened to almost nothing other than Malibu all summer) and lead into the following impassioned songs. The intensity of the songs is hard to miss, the raw emotion is present in her vocals and the lyrics reflect this as she croons about dying for her lover.
The album is confident – something about it just sums up Miley’s essence and is the kind of album I wish she’d released years ago. The artistry presented here is the same kind of artistry she showcases in her ‘Backyard Sessions’ (a YouTube favourite of mine- if you haven’t heard her perform Jolene or Lilac Wine you’re really missing out). That being said, it doesn’t wow on the first listen. As the album goes on the tracks do slightly blur into one with the repeated idea of her infatuation of her lover becoming slightly grating (Thinkin’ is a particular weak element of the album).
Picks: Malibu, Week Without You, I Would Die For You
When artists radically change their genre, it can be a risky move for their career. So, when Miley Cyrus made the decision to switch from the hip-hop/R&B influenced pop that she showcased on 2013’s Bangerz, to the more country-inspired sound that can be heard on Younger Now, she was certainly putting a lot on the line.
(For the record – I am ignoring Miley Cyrus & Her Dead Petz, not because it wasn’t sold commercially, but because it sounds like it was recorded on a really bad LSD trip.)
Additionally, Miley Cyrus has always felt the sting of starting her career as Disney Channel child-star. Bangerz was meant to solidify a new adult image, separating her from her past, but it unfortunately just largely came off as another case of ‘good girl gone bad’ and led to her being called out for white privilege and cultural appropriation.
However, in my opinion, Younger Now succeeded where Bangerz failed. It isn’t necessarily the most revolutionary of albums, nor is it a perfect piece of musical craftsmanship, but it provides a solid platform for the reinvention of Miley Cyrus’ career.
Focusing on the tracks themselves, the two singles so far released from the album, Malibu and the eponymous Younger Now, contain a refreshing sense of simple authenticity and stand out as highlights from the album and Miley’s duet with her godmother Dolly Parton shows off her often-underappreciated vocal ability. Apart from that, most of the rest of the album unfortunately lacks memorability and although the quality never dips too far, the unremarkable quality of these songs keeps the album from greatness.
Picks: Malibu, Younger Now
Miley Cyrus is going back to her roots. Four years after her explosive album Bangerz was released, which cemented her transformation from innocent Disney Channel star to twerking-with-Robin-Thicke-at-the-VMA’s-adult, and two years after the psychedelic SoundCloud release Miley Cyrus & her Dead Petz saw her sporting oversized blonde dreadlocks, Miley is going back to the sound of her hometown Nashville. Straying away from the R&B, hip-hop, and rap that pervades Bangerz, Cyrus relies on country infused pop on her new album Younger Now.
She draws inspiration from none other than Elvis Presley, whose Tennessee roots go a little further down south than in Memphis. Miley has been paying homage to the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll time and time again. On the promotional tour of Younger Now, she has been sporting Elvis t-shirts and dresses, and even Elvis-style sequined jumpsuits. Her collaboration with Dolly Parton on Rainbowland further shows off her love for Elvis.
Younger Now starts off strong with a song of the same name. This is a self-aware track that represents the feel of the whole album; the song embraces all the iterations of Miley Cyrus we have seen through the years. She sings, “No one stays the same / Change is a thing you can count on”. These lyrics seem to be the motto of the new Miley, or is it the old Miley? Who can keep track. In the end, she’s always just bein’ Miley.
Picks: Rainbowland (feat. Dolly Parton), Younger Now, Miss You So Much
Since the age of 9, when Hannah Montana very first blessed our TV screens, I’ve classed myself as a massive Miley Cyrus fan. She’s undeniably had her more questionable moments in the spotlight, but it’s the refreshing honesty with which she tackles this public growth across Younger Now which help to make it such a strong release. She’s still being unashamedly Miley and standing up for what she believes in, but instead of trying to make a loud statement like on Bangerz, she’s doing so through a more stripped back sound – which in my opinion, is a lot more effective.
The country infused pop echoes both the Breakout and, surprisingly, the Hannah Montana eras, and although Cyrus claims to be Younger Now, her sound is undoubtedly a lot more mature this time around. She’s revisiting her Nashville roots, but with a whole lot of musical and life experience under her belt. The raw emotion is clear in her vocals on each track, but is perhaps most successful when paired with a more stripped back instrumental: Miss You So Much and Malibu are some of the strongest tracks of the album, and where this plays through the most. That isn’t to say that the more ‘classic’ pop songs are weak, however – Thinkin’ and Bad Mood are feel good tracks that have instantly made their way onto the majority of my Spotify playlists.
It’s nothing revolutionary, but it’s perfect feel good pop. If you’re looking for an album to brighten up those work heavy weeks, then look no further than Younger Now.
Picks: Malibu, Miss You So Much, Thinkin’, Bad Mood